Someone in this city just might be sitting on an idea could not only save our freshwater lakes but start an innovative business that could make money and create jobs. That’s the concept behind the tech-driven 2020 Lake Winnipeg AquaHacking Challenge launched by the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).
“It’s a startup competition and business mentorship program designed to spark some tech solutions to pressing environmental problems facing our lakes,” says IISD Managing Director, Jane McDonald, who is leading the competition.
Lake Winnipeg is the 11th largest freshwater lake in the world, its basin crosses four Canadian provinces and four U.S. states and is home to 7 million people. Here in Manitoba, Lake Winnipeg is plagued with problems from algal blooms to pharmaceutical and microplastic run-off. But bodies of water around the world are facing similar challenges.
If a student, water researcher, developer, designer or entrepreneur could find solutions to just some of these problems through the AquaHacking competition, it could turn the boat around on the lake’s fate but also result in some wins for business growth.
“I think sometimes people think there is a conflict between building big, successful businesses and protecting our planet. This is one of those moments where the two will come together and we’ll have people look at this problem of how to make our lakes healthier from a different perspective,” says Dayna Spiring, President & CEO of Economic Development Winnipeg.
Here are the top five problems that need solving:
- How can we provide farmers with cost-effective solutions to better manage their water?
- How can we better understand fish populations and what keeps them healthy?
- How can we prevent so many plastics from getting in Lake Winnipeg?
- How can we support remote Northern communities with solutions for testing drinking water quality?
- How can we leverage financial technologies (Big Data, Blockchain) to create investment opportunities that benefit Lake Winnipeg and people?
It’s free to register and open to anyone aged 18-35. However, organizers say if a parent grants permission, participants or teams with members younger than 18 could get involved.
The first phase of the competition takes place from January to May when teams will get access to workshops and mentors who will guide their ideas to solutions.
In June, teams will present their solutions at a science-fair style expo and five (5) teams will be move on to phase two of the competition which runs from June to October.
The top five teams will also get between $2, 500 – $50,000 dollars and a spot at a business incubator to further their idea.
In October, they’ll pitch their idea to a panel of experts and a winner will be chosen.
Organizers suggest having a team and if you don’t have a team, they will help pair you up. They also suggest that the more multidisciplinary your team is, the more likely you are to be successful. Having someone on your team with a background in water science, engineering and sustainable development is good, but so would members with an understanding of data analysis and marketing.
So get thinking, gather the best and brightest among your friends and family for a team and register!
Get more details here.